In the early 1990s, Stella Wedell was holidaying on the Spanish coast when a treasured mixtape featuring some of her favourite songs of the time vanished.
Stella, who lives in Berlin, had spent time in the Costa Brava resort of Empuriabrava and on the island of Mallorca when the cassette went missing and she presumed it had been lost forever.
So she was amazed when she visited a photography exhibition in Stockholm almost a quarter of a century later and was greeted by the sight of what she believed could be her much-loved tape among the exhibits.
The cassette – featuring songs by Bob Marley, Pet Shop Boys and Shaggy – was recovered by award-winning UK artist and photographer Mandy Barker, who has been examining the issue of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans for around a decade.
It had washed up in 2017 on the beach at Playa de Barlovento de Jandía, Fuerteventura, more than 2,000km from where Stella had last seen it.
Mandy initially doubted whether it would play but, after sending it to a professional audio restorer, managed to listen to all the tracks and decided to include it in her touring exhibition, Sea of Artifacts.
On display at Fotografiska between June and August 2019, the exhibition featured 47 of Mandy’s works with the cassette tape being displayed in a vitrine alongside a full track listing to show its age.
Mandy was then astonished to receive an email from Stella, who had visited the exhibition a few days earlier while on holiday in the Swedish capital.
Stella had recognised the tape, and checked its playlist against the CD she had recorded it from in 1993 – and she found them to be a perfect match.